Slipstream Service Pack 3 into Windows XP using nLite

Want to slipstream the latest Service Pack3 into Windows XP? Windows XP is a mature operating system, it is almost seven years since the official launch in 2001. Like most things, as XP has got older it has put on weight and accumulated baggage. A fresh install of Windows XP will include a whole host of things no longer needed or relevant, such as redundant drivers, old system tools and non-required functionality.

There is another problem associated with installing XP from an original CD, there have been so many patches and bug fixes that it can take an age to fully update the operating system via the Windows Update website. This is made even worse by the amount of patches to fix the patches, or even patches to fix the patches that fixed the patches, which means you have to visit Windows Update many times, with a reboot in-between to fully update your system.

For this post I am going to talk about using nLite to create a streamlined XP install, which will incorporate Service Pack 3, and trim out all of the old and non longer required garbage. The same process can be used for creating a streamlined vista install, although the benefits are a little less obvious.

nLite is used to create a copy of your XP CD, and then modify the installation files by adding service packs and drivers, you can also choose to remove windows components, old driver packages and out dated device support. You can also set many system options and provide information such as the CD key to enable the creation of an unattended installation.

Slipstream Service Pack 3 into Windows XP using nLite

In the screenshot above, we can see the full list of top level options available within nLite. The service pack option allows you to browse to a service pack .EXE for slipstreaming directly into your installation. In a similar fashion, the Hotfixes, Add-on and Update Packs option allows you to integrate individual fixes.

The Drivers option will let you add in specific machine dependant drivers, such as up to date video and chipset drivers, saving you from having to install them manually after the installation has completed. The Components option will let you remove parts of the windows installation like the Windows Tour, CD Player, Movie Maker, all that kind of garbage that nobody really wants.

The Unattended option will allow you to set up things like the CD Key, default user name, desktop theme and suchlike. Tweaks is an option panel that allows you to change certain settings, you can access things like the number of programs to show on the start menu, the default folder view and other system wide settings. Finally the Bootable ISO option lets you create either an ISO image, or directly burn your new installation to CD.

Above we can see how components are removed, just scroll through the list and add a tick to anything you want to make disappear. This is really cool, you can remove all of the useless software, old driver packages and all of the language and local settings you will never use, this means the actual size of your XP installation will be reduced, great when installing XP on something like the EEE PC with it’s limited storage space.

Next is the unattended setup page, here we can add a new default user, set the password, enter the CD key and change everything to make the install a single click process. Very useful if you are the kind of person who hates sitting and watching a progress bar, just start the install and come back later to find the PC sitting at the login prompt.

I first discovered nLite a couple of years ago, it was fairly tricky to use back then and some things didn’t work too well. I decided to give it another try last week as I needed to wipe my spare laptop and remove the horrible Vista install that I had been using for testing.

I am glad I did revisit nLite, it has come a long way and now works amazingly well. XP was installed on the laptop in about 20 minutes, there were only 30Mb of windows updates to install after the first boot as Service Pack 3 had been integrated into the installation, a real time saver. Don’t take my word for it, it’s free to use so grab a copy and test it out, personally I will never install XP from an original CD again!

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